Leprechaun Traps

The following is a folkloric tradition that my informant participated in when she was young. My informant is a 45 year old women with Irish heritage. The informant will be referred to as M.


M: When I was young my brother and I used to set up traps for leprechauns and try to trap them. We would put out chocolate gold coins, and set a combination of traps for leprechauns. Some were holes with false tops, so the leprechaun could fall in and not get out, others were boxes that fell on top of the leprechauns when they went to grab the gold. We never caught any leprechauns, but the traps were often set off, and much of the gold was missing, as if the leprechauns always outsmarted us. I made these traps when I was about 5-7 years old.

Context: M got the idea for her trap from her grandmother, who was from Ireland. M’s grandmother told her that she had often seen leprechauns in Ireland and M was inspired to try and catch a leprechaun. M said that this activity was one of her favorite things as a child, the idea of imaging a leprechaun and catching one enthralled her. M thinks the message behind this act is allowing children’s imagination to thrive and grow. M also emphasized that is was a good way to share culture, because a lot of non Irish children also wanted to make leprechaun traps and catch a leprechaun. M says that for her entire childhood she always wanted to go to Ireland because she thought it would be much easier to see leprechauns there, just as her grandma said.

Analysis: I relate to this story especially well. When I was in kindergarten my teacher helped every student in the class create a leprechaun trap out of a shoe box on Saint Patricks Day. Similarly to M, when we came back in the morning, all the traps had been set off but there were no leprechauns to be found. The teacher told us that when she came to the classroom that morning, she had seen the leprechaun running off. All of us in the classroom went crazy looking for the leprechaun all day. Similar to M, this was one of my fondest memories from childhood. This idea of setting a leprechaun trap, shows the imagination, and creativity of children. It represents children as pure and having wild imaginations, believing things without question. It also shows parents and older adults trying to help cultivate and encourage this creativity and imagination.